The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Getting it Right in the Foundation Stage: A Review of the Evidence (Pascal, Bertram and Rouse, 2019) published by Early Education provided a comprehensive review of recent robust evidence on best practice against which current and proposed early years policy and practice might be evaluated. The review suggested 11 action points which are set out below. We suggest these Action Points might provide a useful reflective framework against which you can reflect on how far your current practice is congruent with these points, what elements might deserve some action and what this action might mean for you in your setting.
EYFS Review Action Points
- There is evidence to suggest that there should be some modifications to the current EYFS Statutory Framework to give greater prominence to the Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning and Personal, Social and Emotional Development to ensure the foundational skills, understandings and knowledge in these areas are securely in place before more advanced, challenging learning is introduced to the children.
- The evidence suggests that the Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning, which support the development of self-regulation and positive learning habits, should be seen as a more central aspect of the EYFS Statutory framework.
- The current EYFS framework which highlights Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED) as a prime area of learning is supported by recent evidence and the current EYFS Early Learning Goals should be extended to cover a wider range of learning dispositions and capacities, including self-regulation.
- It is particularly important that EYFS children have a confident grasp of oral language and communication before they are moved on to grasp the skills of written forms of language.
- There should be more focus on conceptual knowledge in Mathematics and practical rehearsal of Mathematical, Communication and Language, and Literacy skills in real world contexts which have meaning for the child.
- The current EYFS requirements on teaching and learning approaches is supported by recent evidence but the value of a balanced teaching approach which incorporates play-based and relational pedagogic approaches, alongside more structured learning and teaching, needs to be recognised more fully, especially when children are in transition between EYFS and Key Stage 1.
- Some additional guidance for teaching Understanding the World is needed to ensure that the development of citizenship and children’s rights are foregrounded in classroom practice, and more attention is given to the teaching of science and the implications of children growing up in a digital age.
- It is suggested that more time and attention should be given to supporting creativity (along with problem-solving) in children’s development as a capacity which underpins all areas of learning.
- There is a need for more encouragement and support to be given to the teaching of Expressive Arts and Design within the curriculum, as this area of learning enhances mental health, wellbeing and underpins many other aspects of learning.
- It is evident that the features of effective pedagogic practice for disadvantaged children are congruent with those found to work for all children and there is no evidence that a different or more intense teaching approach is required. There is strong evidence that these children, as do their peers, need more opportunities for play, language consolidation and extension and opportunities to develop their wider learning dispositions and capacities.
- To effectively support children within diverse cultural and social norms, for example, recent immigrants, the diversity of learners must be recognised within all teaching content. Teaching content needs to equally recognise life experiences, including acknowledging the different needs of summer born children, and a broader span of social and behavioural competencies.
Chris Pascal and Tony Bertram are Vice Presidents of Early Education and Directors of the Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC)